Category Archives: Education

Bed and Breakfast, what does that really mean?

The answer may be obvious but it may be worth reiterating, since today’s breakfast was a little different than the typical day.

A B&B should mean just that, a luxurious Bed and a wonderful Breakfast. It should be a place that feels a bit like home and provides a nice comfortable rest for the guest. While it may not feel like your home, it should have a “homey” feel. After all, it is your home away from home.

Breakfast should be another reason why you choose to stay at a B&B. Today we had a couple staying that follow a Vegan diet. They had informed us of this during the booking, and also took the time to call. We  reassured them that it would not be an issue and we would plan accordingly.

Their breakfast could have consisted of a few different options, the easiest would be to just supply fruit and perhaps some vegan yogurt and cereal. We feel however, that breakfast should be something that you remember as part of your stay at the Ash Street Inn. In this particular instance, I had emailed the guest and suggested vegan Banana Pecan Pancakes.  I heard back a couple days later that “The breakfast you have planned sounds fantastic!” so it was put on the menu.

bb1aMargit took this one step further and added a vegan Blueberry Muffin to the check-in baked goods, They were placed alongside Chocolate Chip Cookies and Apricot White Chocolate Chip Scones, both non-vegan.  Success, we were told the muffins served as an excellent after dinner dessert when our guest returned “home” and were looking for a snack.

The pancakes were well received in the morning and were served with warm NH Maple Syrup and earthbalance “butter”. There was of course fruit and soy yogurt as well. Upon checkout I was pleased to see a note in our guestbook that said “thanks for the beautiful room and  fantastic breakfast.” Mission accomplished!

Although we can not accommodate all dietary needs, we will do our best to have some options available. We do ask during the booking process, that if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions, please let us know,

Antiques Week is here!

Every year early August brings a truly great series of events to Manchester, NH.  The whole collection is referred to as “Antiques Week” and, for almost two full weeks, Manchester, NH is the site of some of the greatest auctions, shows, fairs and exhibits of Americana in the country.  Beginning with a three-day auction of impressive items from world acclaimed collections and ending with a multi-day “flea market” at the Deerfield Fairgrounds, there is something for everyone who enjoys Americana.

Ron Bourgeault of Northeast Auctions kicks off the festivities with his superb auction at the Center of New Hampshire.  He is renowned for his ability to put together amazing collections of items and his auctions are always well attended.  For three days, collectors and dealers from around the country bid on one-of-a-kind items from America’s past.  While there are lots of items that you and I might be interested in, there are always “high-end” items that only a few can afford to bid on.  Some items end up selling for tens of thousands of dollars and reflect the highest points of American craftsmanship and artistry.

Between August 7 and August 15, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen will hold their 77th annual fair at the Mount Sunapee Resort.  Here 350 juried members of the League display the efforts of their labor and provide demonstrations of their respective crafts for the public.  With all the different mediums in which they work and the different perspectives that they bring to their crafts, it is a truly amazing event.  More than enough treasures for everyone!

All week long there are dozens of other smaller events that offer the opportunity to discover your own special “finds”.  At the Furniture World Building, at 1300 South Porter Street, there are three days of events planned for mid-week visitors.  On August 9, there is the Manchester Pickers Market Antiques Show with 80 real pickers and dealers offering their finds to the public.  On August 11 and 12, the Mid-week in Manchester Antiques Show featuring over 100 dealers and their collections of Americana.

Mixed in with all of these events are the quaint little craft fairs in every small town in the area where local artists and dealers display their own wares for sale.  Here is where it is all about the hunt as you travel from town to town looking for just the right item to add to your own collection and have the thrill of the find when you are successful.

Whatever your interest in antiques might be there is something in Manchester for you to enjoy during this time.  Whether you’re a collector or a “picker”, a dealer or a buyer or someone who simply enjoys watching a true craftsperson at work, you will be able to find something that suits your style somewhere near the Ash Street Inn.

 

Top 10 Cities to Live In

I know I talk a lot about Manchester, NH being a great place live in and visit.  Some folks might just shrug that off and attribute it to the fact that lots of people think they live in a great place.  If they didn’t think it was that great they would probably move to another place that was better!  But Manchester has received a bunch of accolades from several sources so I thought I’d pass them along to prove that I’m, at least somewhat, impartial.  And I’m not a native of New Hampshire either.  My wife and I are both from Massachusetts, what they call Flatlanders up here, so that’s not just being idyllic about home-sweet-home.

Portfolio.com, which is the online presence of the now-defunct magazine, recently named Manchester, NH the 10th best mid-size place to live and start a business.  They found that Manchester has a healthy economy, moderate cost of living, light traffic, robust housing stock and top-notch educational system!  As innkeepers here at the Ash Street Inn, we are more interested in what might drive visitors to Manchester than what might make them want to live here but it turns out that they overlap quite well.  A good economy, light traffic and great schools in the area mean that we get lots of guests who are looking for a chance to relax and enjoy themselves and want to spend that time in a vibrant community with other folks who are doing the same things.  Works for us all.

One award however does not a trend make.  It would be much more meaningful if there was some independent corroboration.  So here we go.

In May of 2010, Forbes Magazine named Manchester, NH to their Top 10 list of livable places based on the last five years of economic growth, cost of living, current unemployment rates and crime rates.

In 2009, CNNMoney.com named Manchester, NH 13th on their list of the best places to live and start a business in the United States.

Also in 2009, Kiplinger’s named Manchester, NH the second most tax friendly city in the US, second only to Anchorage, AK.

Last, but not least, also in 2009, Forbes magazine put Manchester, NH #1 on it’s list “America’s 100 Cheapest Places to Live”.

It’s great to see that, for the criteria that were the basis for these surveys, Manchester, NH is doing well and has been for some time.  Of course, if you were to change the criteria, Manchester’s ranking might well be different but to find a thriving, active, fun community that can change with the times and isn’t just about the hype of the current fads, these criteria work just fine.

If you ever have the opportunity, you should spend a few days in Manchester, NH and see for yourself what a great place it is.

 

Hiking Manchester

I know I keep talking about the CITY of Manchester, NH and all there is to do here but, before you start picturing all the concrete and blacktop, I thought I’d talk a bit about all the walking and hiking you can take in without driving all the way to the White Mountains.

From the Ash Street Inn you can get to some pretty fun spots pretty quickly.  The list of parks within the city limits is pretty extensive and can be found at the Manchester parks and recreation website.  As you can see from this listing, some of the parks are quite small – mostly historical monuments and such.  But several are quite large and allow for lots of recreational activities year-round.

Derryfield Park is just about a mile east of the Inn.  It is situated on a broad hill overlooking Manchester, to the west, with great views of the skyline and the mountains beyond.  The park covers almost 77 acres primarily around the Oak Hill Reservoir, with some of the area developed for recreation and some left in it’s natural state.  At the northern end of the park it connects with the McIntyre Ski Area which is a small, local ski area that is a favorite for tubers!   A great park for lounging around on a Sunday afternoon with a good book – and a pillow!

Livingston Park/Dorrs Pond is about a mile north of the Inn.  The park is situated around Dorr’s Pond and offers a wide of recreational activities from fishing and hiking to soccer and tennis.  It covers over 130 acres, including the pond, and is a favorite nearby getaway for our guests.  For a day of fishing, a few quick sets of tennis or a three mile run, it is close and convenient and still in the city.

The Massabesic Audubon Center may be the best of all.  Just six (6) miles from the Inn, the sanctuary surrounds Massabesic Lake which is the primary water supply for the city of Manchester.  The Lake has a surface area of 2,500 acres and the protected watershed area covers another 8.000 acres.  Here you can fish and boat, hike, go bird-watching and just commune with nature all day long.  There are guided activities through the Audubon Center as well as marked trails if you want to head off on your own.  Whatever you choose, it’s a remarkable place to be for a few hours and just a few minutes from downtown Manchester.

These are a few of the large parks and well worth the time to visit.  But you don’t even need to go out of your way to enjoy some great little parks that dot the city.  From the Inn to the restaurant area Elm Street, you can pass through three parks complete with well mown grass, trees and flowers, traditional park benches and all the little things that make parks fun like children, puppies {on leashes, of course) and squirrels.  All during a 15 minute on your way to dinner.  Which we’ll get back to next time.

 

Scones

Today I’m going to talk a little about scones. Not so much about scones really but how the scones at the Ash Street Inn got to be what they are today.  It was an interesting journey that ended with a great result!

Before we opened we had determined that we wanted to make cookies and scones, from scratch, every day, so our guests would be able to have a little snack in the afternoon.  So first we needed to learn how make scones.  After a bit of trial and error, we were making some great scones!  We made them the traditional way as a 10” round which we cut into 8 wedges and kept them out on the counter under a pastry dome.  Our guests oohed and aahed but rarely touched them.

“Maybe they’re just too big for snacking!” opined my wife, Darlene.  [She’s the real innkeeper – I’m just the cook…]  So we made them as drop scones and got 12-14 from the batch.  We still heard the oohs and aahs but no one touched them.  “Smaller still” says the innkeeper!  Now I’m down to a medium cookie scoop, about one ounce capacity, and a batch makes 26-27 small scones.

Out goes the plate with four each of four different varieties.  And they disappear!  The same guests who wouldn’t take one before now have two or three of the little scones and then come back for more.  We just can’t keep them on the plate!

So that’s how we learned to make little scones that our guests really love.  More importantly, that’s how we learned a lot more about guests and how to listen to all of the things that they don’t say so that we can make their experience here at the Inn the best that it can be.

 

Here’s one of the recipes that we use at the Inn.  Great with a hot cup of tea but just as good with coffee!

 

 

CHOCOLATE CHIP ORANGE SCONES

Chocolate and orange, a classic combination from the Ash Street Inn!

2 cups all-purpose flour                                     ¼ cup orange juice

1/3 cup granulated sugar                                     1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons baking powder                                grated peel from one orange

½ teaspoon salt                                                    ¾ cup miniature chocolate chips (semisweet or dark)

½ cup unsalted butter, chilled

2 large eggs

 

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut the butter in ½ inch cubes and distribute over the flour mixture.  With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  In a small bowl, stir together the eggs, orange juice, vanilla and orange peel.  Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and combine well.  The dough will be sticky.  With lightly floured hands, knead in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

 

Use a medium cookie scoop and place the scones on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Freeze for several hours.  Then place in a zip-lock bag.  Scones will keep for 2-3 weeks.

 

To bake, remove from freezer and place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 13 to 14 minutes until just lightly browned.

 

Manchester, NH is a college town!

As we near the end of April, it’s time to think about college and university graduations.  It’s also a great time for us to talk about all the great schools that are so close to us here at the Ash Street Inn.

St. Anselm’s College, at 100 St. Anselm’s Drive, has their commencement scheduled for 2:00 PM on May 22 on their 400 acre campus.  St. Anselm’s College was founded in 1889 by the Roman Catholic Order of Saint Benedictine and now has an enrollment of over 2,000 students.  With a student to faculty ratio of 12:1, they have developed a reputation for academic excellence in many areas.  St. Anselm’s College is 3.6 miles from the Inn.

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), at 2500 River Road, has their commencement scheduled for Saturday, May 15 at 11:00 AM at the Verizon Wireless Arena in downtown Manchester.  SNHU was founded in 1932 as the New Hampshire School of Accounting and Secretarial Science.  Over the years it has grown into the school it is today with 3,900 day/evening students and another 1,900 online students pursuing a vast array of degrees.  SNHU is 3.5 miles from the Inn.  The Verizon Wireless Arena is 1.1 miles from the Inn.

The New Hampshire Institute of Art (NHIA), at 148 Concord Street, has their commencement scheduled for Sunday, May 23.  NHIA offer the only BFA program in the State of New Hampshire and also offers a multitude of continuing education programs for aspiring artists.  With a student to faculty ratio of less than 10:1, they provide their students with personal attention.  They now have over 425 full-time students and over 1,500 students in the continuing education programs.  Founded in 1898, they have undergone a rebirth in the last five years and continue to grow and expand in downtown Manchester.  NHIA is .5 miles from the Inn.

The University of New Hampshire has a satellite campus in Manchester’s historic Millyard at 400 North Commercial Street.  Their commencement is scheduled for Thursday, May 19 at 4:00 PM at the Expo Center at the Center of New Hampshire.  Founded in 1985, the Manchester Campus has grown to over 2,000 students pursuing a number of degree programs through the University.  With a student to faculty ratio of 9:1, the programs get great reviews from the students for the personal attention that they receive.  The Manchester Campus is .7 miles from the Inn.  The Expo Center is 1.1 miles from the Inn.

Here at the Ash Street Inn, we consider ourselves lucky to have so many great colleges in the city.  Having received my last degree in 1979, it is refreshing to meet the “new generation” when they, and their parents, stay at the Inn to visit the schools in the area.  With all the negative press we read in the papers everyday, it is heartening to actually meet these young people.  Makes you realize that we are going to make it after all!

 

Manchester, NH – the “center of the universe”?

You might say we’re biased but, yes, we do see it as just that.  From the Ash Street Inn Bed and Breakfast, so many places are so close and easy to get to.  You can visit any of the New England states on less than one-half tank of gas.  Mystic, CT; Newport, RI; Portland, ME; Montpelier, VT and Provincetown, MA are all less than 175 miles away.  And with the easy access to all the interstate highways, you can get there quickly.  Or, if you prefer, there are lots of choices for “the road less travelled” that might get you there more slowly – or might not get you there at all.  It’s so easy to get sidetracked along the way that some guests never get where they were originally going at all – and don’t mind a bit.

Closer to home, there are still lots of choices when looking for great things to do in and around Manchester, NH.  Within 45 minutes in any direction, you can experience the wide range of choices that New England has to offer.  Head south and you can be in downtown Boston, MA with all that it has to offer – from the arts to sports to history.  Head east and you can experience all 13 miles of New Hampshire’s scenic coastline from the sandy beaches of Hampton Beach along the rock-strewn cliffs to Portsmouth.  Head west and you will be in the Monadnock range where picturesque little towns like Peterborough and Dublin home of Yankee Magazine, can be real “finds”.  Head north and you will discover Lake Winnipesaukee and Franconia Notch in the White Mountains, home to our beloved Mount Washington.

And, without even leaving Manchester, there are so many exciting things to do.  There is hiking, fishing and mountain biking around Massabesic Lake and the Audubon Center.  In season, you can ski and “tube” at McIntyre Ski Area. Minor league hockey and baseball are always great fun.  We have several venues for concerts and performances by artists from the world over.  The Currier Museum of Art and several other galleries and museums can make even a rainy day a great time.  With all the great restaurants and clubs in the city, everyone can find something that suits their style and have a remarkable day doing just about anything at all.

In future posts, we’ll talk in more detail about all the things to do in Manchester, NH and you’ll see why we like to think of it as the “center of the universe”!